After a two year wait, plans for “RemembrancePark” are starting to move forward. The village announced plans and a fundraiser for the repurposing of the small pocket park at Circle Avenue and Randolph Street.

In 2012, the village council approved a Recreation Board request to rename a park for Forest Park police officers and firefighters killed in the line of duty. Since then, members of the Forest Park Fire Fighter’s Association, and the Forest Park Fraternal Order of Police, worked with WoodlawnCemetery and McAdam Landscaping to create a memorial. It will be designed for four Forest Park first-responders who lost their lives on duty.

“All they need now is funding to bring the final design to life,” Mayor Anthony Calderone said a letter.

The memorial will consist of a landscaped path surrounding a vertical pillar. The names of officers Edward Pflaume (1896-1925) and Michael Caulfield (1965-1982), Police Lieutenant Herman W. Ziebell (1900-1946), and Fire Captain Frank Schnurstein (1924-1969) will be inscribed.

The playground is across the street from Grant-WhiteSchool; it was also the site of the old Village Hall building, built in 1915, which formerly housed the police and fire departments. The building was torn down and Village Hall was moved to 517 Desplaines Ave. in the 1970s.

The cost of the memorial will be $7,000. Unions for the firefighters and police got the ball rolling by each pledging $500.

A fund has been set up at Forest Park National Bank and Trust for contributions. The hope, Calderone said, is that the fundraising will take place over the winter with construction set for next summer. The village installed “thermometer” fundraising signs in public spots to draw attention to the campaign.

At this point, the campaign is only accepting donations through the mail or dropped off at village hall. The village is attempting to coordinate with the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office to allow electronic contributions, said Executive Secretary Sally Cody.

Checks may be made to: THE FOREST PARK FIRST RESPONDERS MEMORIAL FUND, c/o Forest Park National Bank & Trust, 7348 Madison St., or c/o the Village of Forest Park, 517 Desplaines Ave. 

Forest Park’s first-responders killed in the line of duty

Officer Edward Pflaume, 29, was shot and killed on Dec. 13, 1925 as he attempted to arrest two robbery suspects. One of Al Capone’s top lieutenants, William “Three-Fingered Jack” White, was convicted of Pflaume’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Pflaume left behind a pregnant wife and had served with the Forest Park Police Department for just one year.

Police Lieutenant Herman W. Ziebell, 46, had been with the force for 20 years when he was shot during a burglary attempt behind a service station at Desplaines Avenue and Roosevelt Road on Sept. 30, 1946. One of his killers was sentenced to 199 years; the second was executed via electric chair in 1947.

Fire Captain Frank Schnurstein,44, suffered a fatal heart attack in the line of duty during a rescue attempt on March 28, 1969. According to articles from the Chicago Tribune, the firefighter, who was in his 40s, climbed to the top of a ladder to reach upper apartments on a burning commercial building. “He was stricken while at the top of the ladder, and fell backward, landing on the sidewalk three stories below.”

Rookie Officer Michael Caulfield, 23, was shot and killed inside the Forest Park police station by a suspect on Sept. 30, 1982 who had been taken into custody by detectives. He had been on the force for three months. A prisoner disarmed an arresting officer and shot both Caulfield and another officer. Caulfield was killed instantly, but the other officer managed to shoot and kill the suspect.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...